Governor General’s Medal Winner: Gilles-Vigneault Performance Hall


A grand staircase connects the performance hall to the outdoor plaza, knitting the building into its urban fabric.

LOCATION Saint-Jérôme, Québec
ARCHITECT Atelier TAG in consortium with Jodoin Lamarre Pratte architectes
PHOTOS Adrien Williams

The city of Saint-Jérôme, north of Montreal, is in the midst of reinventing itself as an eco-recreational and cultural hub. Its performance hall actively participates in this process, turning the traditional experience of the theatre inside-out.

Through its placement, the Gilles-Vigneault Performance Hall marks a significant new civic axis and consolidates a portfolio of existing civic and cultural buildings that orbit the site. An open, transparent foyer embraces the public square, and unfolds into a grandstand that extends the theatre’s realm to the outdoors. The design reinterprets the traditional classical theatre archetype, replacing its staid formalism with a porous approach.

A pleated structural wood canopy extends from the outdoor plaza to the theatre’s main foyer.

Blurring the boundaries between outside and inside, a 930-square-metre wood canopy acts as a unifying gesture. Articulated with origami-like folds, the canopy cantilevers over the plaza, and extends inside as a spectacular ceiling over the lobby.

The expansiveness and contemporary language of the wood canopy pose a counterpoint to the neo-classical spire of St. Jérôme’s cathedral. This calculated urban staging tells the story of a decades-long shift: from the patriarchal, hermetic verticality of 19th-century ecclesiastical architecture, towards the democratic, egalitarian horizontality of contemporary Quebec society.

The building is wrapped in an expanded aluminum mesh that softens its volume.

The iconic presence of the new structure stems, in part, from its imaginative construction. The canopy uses cross-laminated timber as coffered beams, then innovates by creating a folded slab that makes use of the lateral structural rigidity of the system. The pleating forms an efficient, lightweight diaphragm, with folds that conceal mechanical systems. The solution unites architecture, structural and mechanical engineering needs. Moreover, it references Canadian construction culture, the distinct character of the Laurentian mountains, and the fundamental links that exist between natural forestry resources, technical know-how and built heritage.

The main theatre structure is wrapped in an expanded aluminum veil that, through an optical play of layers, softens the imposing volume of the fly tower. Its luminous metallic quality nods to the cathedral’s traditional tin roof, while blurring the boundaries between architecture and landscape.

Wood is paired with charcoal-toned seats and finishes in the performance hall.

:: Jury Comments ::  This rugged concert hall works to activate the downtown of Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. Sectionally interesting, the complex exterior shows an industrial grittiness that attempts to grab hold of its surroundings—symbolically and physically. A massive black spruce soffit protects the public in the forecourt, leading them inside to a lobby covered by the same canopy. The interior boasts a graceful concert hall clad skillfully in wood, following an undulating pattern.

Read Canadian Architect’s review of this project here.

PROJECT TEAM Atelier TAG—Manon Asselin (architect principal), Katsuhiro Yamazaki, Jason Treherne, Cédric Langevin. JLP—Nicolas Ranger, Michel Dupuis, Maxime Gagnon, Ariane Latendresse, Olivier Millien, Guylaine Beaudoin, Serge Breton | CLIENT Diffusion En Scène Rivière du Nord Inc.—David Laferrière, General and Artistic Director | STRUCTURAL SDK | MECHANICAL/ELECTRICAL SMI Enerpro | CONTRACTOR Group Demathieu Bard | LIGHTING CS Design | SIGNAGE PK Design | SCENOGRAPHY Go Multimedia | OCCUPANCY September 29, 2017 | BUDGET $21 M